What’s my take on health?
When it comes to health, I truly believe the key component of this vast concept is ‘heal’-ing. Besides the fact that “heal” comprises 4/6 of the word itself, health, I believe that a lot of one’s emotional, mental, and, of course, physical well-being arises from their ability to heal.
Now, every single person is going to have a different relationship with healing and health – as with everything else in life. My healing may or may not look like your healing and what heals me may or may not heal you. However, this is Bri’s Blog and I’m here to share what has worked for me and perhaps it will, in fact, work for you, or at the very least provide you insight into another perspective.
So how do I keep healthy?
Physically, my health is a balanced fusion of exercise, eating habits, and mediation / yoga. To break that down some more…
Every day, I make sure to move my body somehow. Miguel and I spend a lot of time at the computer editing and producing music so it’s important to move. This entails walking for 45 minutes to an hour, dancing (at @forward_space of course, this is pure elation), stretching, doing yoga (even if it’s for only 10 minutes), strength conditioning, and deep breathing. Lately, with Little Lady in tow, I’ve found creative ways to accomplish these tasks.
For example, I do yoga and stretch while playing with her on the ground, and I deep breathe when I’m feeding her; I certainly don’t have as much time as pre-babe, but instead, I’ve become more creative with how and when I take this time for myself. So I’d advise moving, even for just 20 minutes. Endorphins rush, blood flows, and your body feels good.
In 2011, I went drill-sergeant-strict vegan. I had already been vegetarian for several years and I watched “Forks Over Knives” (highly recommended). I was convinced, it was just what my body needed and made me feel so great. I lost weight, I had more energy, I felt less bloated and I lived-in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, so there was a plethora of vegan, hipster, delicious restaurants and cafes to support my new lifestyle.
I deflected the family jokes and ridicules with ease – remember this is 2011, before the mainstream vegan movement – and tried every kind of seitan, tempeh dish you can imagine.
2.5 years later, in 2013, after countless rejections of chocolate chip cookies (non-vegan ones of course), Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream, and tuna fish, (I’ve loved tuna with mayo since childhood), I decided to modify my diet. I figured there’s a balance between honoring certain beliefs and morals and honoring certain desires – like a bite of Häagen-Dazs Vanilla ice cream.
These days, I eat eggs and fish. However, I don’t eat cheese, milk, or animal products as they simply don’t sit well with my system – or with my daughters for that matter, with the exceptions of a random seldom bite or taste. Pre-babe, I wasn’t eating eggs, but the Doctor recommended a bit more protein, so I’ve gone the route of farm-raised, cage-free, organic eggs – we actually have chickens so we get eggs from them. (Sidenote: If you live in the woods like us, I highly recommend getting some chicks. The up-keep is pretty simple and you get delicious, fresh, organic eggs which saves so much money too!) All of this to say, every now and then I’ll have a bite of said delicious chocolate chip cookie or tiramisu (Häagen-Dazs), but generally I’m an 80-90% vegan with the exception of some fish and eggs to give babe the protein she needs – I’m exclusively breastfeeding these days.
All of this to say…
I feel like what’s best and “healthiest” is something only your body will know to be true for you. Whether that’s raw-vegan or crazy-carnivore or Keto, what feels right for you, for your system, is the way to go. Telltale signs of this include feeling energized / good after you eat (rather than feeling tired), having the ability to wake up well-rested in the morning, feeling limber, and fresh. And this point is logical, but the “cleaner” the food – aka the more the natural – the better for your system. How long does it take your body to process the food? What ingredients make up the snack? Like any machine, the less work the machine has to do, the better for its longevity and output.
Also; Water, Water, Water!
I drink a lot of water and find that this also aids in my overall health. If we are nearly 90% water at birth and end up being closer to 70% water when we pass to the next stage, why not try and balance that out a bit with bottles (even buckets) of consumed water? It helps the skin, flexibility, and digestion. Basically water, water, water is a win, win, win.
Mentally, my health is a balanced fusion of staying creative, finding time to center and ground through breath work, yoga and meditation, appreciating the little things (and big things) morning, noon & night, checking in with myself to stay present, and to be kind and easy with my thoughts.
Let’s break that down.
Create, Create, Create…Go, Go, Go!
I’ve always been an active, fast-paced person, and I thrive when I have a multitude of tasks on my hands. I also have an abundance of creativity that pulses through me – whether that’s lyrics or new concepts for films or ideas for clients’ projects – and I choose to create most of the time. Over the years, I’ve learned to balance this activity with calm, spacious times, which is why meditation, yoga, and breathwork practices have been really life-changing for me.
Every morning when I wake up and every night before I go to sleep, I think about the things I’m grateful for. This always includes Miguel, Aiyanna, and our families and friends; often my health, the abundance of creativity that flows, the projects and jobs we receive amongst a myriad of other topics – from as simple as my hands and my breath to being alive and living the life I live. I find that this gratitude practice not only eases my mind before sleep and before the day starts but also nurtures more gratitude and therefore, more elements to be grateful for – funny how the Universe / God / the cosmos/life works in that way.
Loving-Kindness to Soothe the Soul
During my pregnancy, and especially during these unique times, I’ve found that a loving-kindness practice has been very soothing and reassuring. Whenever I feel uneasy, anxious, or fearful, I use loving-kindness as a mantra: may we be safe and protected; may we be healthy in mind, body, and spirit; may we be happy; may we live in peace and ease. I highly recommend this practice as it feels warm and lovely, emanating from the heart out to the rest of the World. There are various loving-kindness practices and mantras. I enjoy the one written above which is used as a personal meditation then I continue to “bring in” my loved ones and eventually the whole planet. There are other versions of the practice, of course. You can read more about it here.
Yoga, Breath-Work, & Meditation
I highly recommend any or all of these if and when you can – and yes, you can!! Even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes a day, it truly is life changing. It allows me to come to the present moment, recognize where I’m holding tension (physically, emotionally, or mentally) and not only release said tension, but also investigate the root and often heal whatever is causing discomfort. We live in such a fast paced, go go go world (myself included, which is great but also we need the balance!) and we so often are in another world – in thoughts of the past or future – so to be able to ground and center right here right now is really incredible. Also, to experience how when I “slow down” and come to the present, life flows to me rather than me chasing or running after it is simply awesome.
Not to mention, as a new mother, this practice is TREMENDOUS. I can’t even count in the past 4 months how these tools have helped me stay calm and present even in the face of a frustrated, screaming babe. I also have to admit that I miss my long sessions of sitting and being with myself, however I’ve found new ways to practice – like walking meditations, shower meditations, yoga on the floor with babe while we play, you get the idea!
Important to note: As you can see, clearly some mental health practices overlap with physical health and visa versa. We are a thinking, feeling, doing organism, so obviously all of these categories will overlap some.
Emotionally = energy – in – motion – ally. How does my energy flow from moment to moment? When I feel emotions arising – good, bad, indifferent – how am I responding?
Check-in, Check-in, Check-in!
Throughout the day, I do my best to be aware of how I’m feeling, as this literally creates and shapes my life. In conjunction with my mental and physical health, my feeling health aka my emotional health is what I aim to make my priority.
Now, let’s be honest. Even having a positive, present outlook doesn’t mean that everyday is rainbows and butterflies. This means that sometimes I feel like crap and that is A-OKAY! Too often in the mindfulness / new age / whatever-you-want-to-call-it movement, there’s a misconception that “negative” or bad emotions are just that: bad. This is so inaccurate. We are human beings with complex emotions ranging from elation to depression and everything in between and all of this is okay because it is what it is. To ignore or avoid any of these emotions only creates dissonance within the self – and I’m a firm believer that an emotion is arising to teach a lesson and / or to resolve something within one’s self that needs resolution.
Often, I’ll thank the emotion that arises (especially the negative emotions!) as this is an easy way to flow with whatever is happening. The beautiful thing about this practice is that after some time, I begin to have space and freedom to choose how to feel, how to be. That’s when life gets super fun, super easy, super loving, super whatever you want it to be. Which leads me to…
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!
The truth of the matter is, we don’t know why we’re here. We humans. We also don’t know why we became Person X or Person Y instead of a Tiger or a Chipmunk in this life. So that being the case, that we don’t really know why we’re here, but we have a choice: live with love or live with hate. Have fun or have misery. Be easy or be difficult.
So again, emotions will arise and those emotions are all accepted, however, I do my best to turn to love as much as possible. . And what is love? Happiness, joy, fun, play, compassion, gratitude, elation, creativity, connection, kindness, easy, peace….I can go on. At the end of the day, all that really matters is love. Love for ourselves and our experiences, love for each other and love for this life.
So I wish you all of this when considering your health, knowing that you can’t have one without the other. You’re a complete, whole human with thoughts, emotions and physicality and the sooner you are able to find balance not only between these components individually but also amongst them, the more love, dare I say, the better life will be.
With love and gratitude,